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Archive for September 2009

Distracted Drivers Killed 5,800 in ’08…

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(Newser Summary) – Accidents caused by distracted drivers killed at least 5,800 and injured another 515,000 last year, according to data pulled from police reports and presented today to Transportation Department conference on the issue. The actual figures may be significantly higher, say Transportation officials, since distraction is often hard to identify as a cause of a crash. Congress is considering laws that would limit what drivers can do behind the wheel, Reuters reports.

A ban on text-messaging has widespread support, but a cell phone ban is more controversial. While overall accidents fell last year, distracted driving was a growing cause, implicated in 16% of cases, up from 11% in 2004. Roughly 6% of drivers used their phones while driving in 2007, and another 1% texted on some other device.

Kevin Spak

Source: Reuters

Written by dnnnewshound

September 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

Posted in Accident

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(SHOCKING) READ: Chicago Day-Care Home Used for Dogfights…

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296414-1-20090924131854.image(Newser Summary) – Chicago police raided an Illinois day-care center that apparently doubled as a brutal dogfighting operation. Ten children were being watched at the private home at the time of the raid. A swing set used by the kids was only 10 feet from a bloody garage where a “vicious” pit bull was found, said the county sheriff. Three people were arrested and nine abused dogs recovered.

Nick McMaster

Source: Chicago Tribune And Newser

Written by dnnnewshound

September 26, 2009 at 10:42 am

(ENVIRONMENT) READ: Gizmos’ Energy Draw Alarms Experts…

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294955-6-20090919194543.image(Newser Summary) – All around the house, electronic gadgets are blinking, buzzing, computing—and drawing on an immense amount of energy, the New York Times reports. Worldwide, they take up 15% of household power, and will likely consume three times as much by 2029, making it harder to combat global warming. Two hundred and thirty nuclear plants would be needed to fuel that demand, the International Energy Agency says.

Most experts say regulations are needed to limit gadgets’ energy draw, but manufacturers have resisted such mandates. A federal attempt to limit the power draw of TVs—flat-screens are the biggest energy offender—died in the 1990s due to industry opposition. But Congress has done it before, limiting the energy use of appliances like refrigerators and washers. “Standards are one of the few ways to cheaply go after big chunks of energy savings,” one advocate says.

Neal Colgrass

Source: New York Times

Written by dnnnewshound

September 26, 2009 at 10:34 am

Posted in Ecology, Economics

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(ECONOMY/OUTRAGEOUS) READ: Chicago Cabbies Want To Charge For People Tossing Their Lunch!…

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s-CAB-largeSource: The Huffington Post

Chicago could become the first major city in the country with a puking ordinance if cab drivers get their way.

Chicago taxi drivers proposed a package of fee and fare hikes Thursday designed to offset their plunging income during the recession. Among the more controversial revenue-boosting ideas brought to the City Council is charging customers $50 for vomiting in cabs.

If enacted, Chicago would become one of America’s least friendly cities for drunks and people who eat bad shellfish. Customers who barf in cabs in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston or San Francisco may face the driver’s wrath, but they won’t see any additional charges.

“No, we do not have a puking fee,” Boston Police spokesman Joe Zanoli told the Huffington Post. “To my knowledge it’s free to puke in a cab.”

Raymond Turner, president of Yellow Cab Houston, said Friday that of the nearly 3.7 million cab trips his company makes yearly only a fraction involve incidents of reverse peristalsis.

“It’s a fairly rare event,” Turner said. “From my perspective, putting a city ordinance that applies to all cab rides for something that happens only three or four times a month is not very prudent.”

Turner added that while Houston has no law allowing for a fee, drivers often work out arrangements with customers who ralph while in transit. Some passengers agree to pay for a car wash, while others give larger tips.

Written by dnnnewshound

September 26, 2009 at 10:09 am

Posted in Economy, Outrageous

Tagged with ,

(CLIMATE) READ: Venice Is Sinking Despite Billion-Dollar Efforts To Keep It Afloat…

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venice1The construction of mobile floodgates aims to safeguard the 1,300-year-old island city of Venice. It’s an ambitious engineering project, but some scientists say it may not be sufficient to protect Venice from rising sea levels due to climate change.

Venice rose from mudflats in the middle of a lagoon which forms the largest wetland in the Mediterranean. One of the world’s most endangered cities, it has been subject to increasing flooding due to sinking land — but also to rising sea levels.

It’s known as “aqua alta” — high water — and it brings city life to a standstill for several hours. Big boats can’t go under low-hanging bridges, and water seeps into buildings through the sewage system. Venetians have not lived on the ground floor for decades. READ MORE

Written by dnnnewshound

September 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Earth, Ecology

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(ECONOMICS) READ: Cash-strapped States Are Hoping You’ll Sin, But There’s Not Enough Sinners!…

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Source: ESQUIRE

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The Las Vegas of 2009 has become much more reliant on high-end customers looking to splurge.

It’s never quite accurate to describe Las Vegas as a ghost town. Even at five in the morning on a Tuesday, it’s liable to be more lively than your average main street or shopping mall. But when I arrived there for a brief getaway last November, it was not the same bustling town I’d been used to. My flight from Houston was barely a third full. There was no line at the taxi stand, and my cabbie told me that several of his friends had recently been laid off from construction work on a variety of new developments, many of which had been halted in midstream after financing dried up. And when I arrived at Las Vegas Boulevard in the heart of the Strip, I found as many locals handing out postcards for dodgy escort services as tourists.

None of this, I suppose, should have been surprising: November was the nadir of the worst recession since the Second World War. Nevertheless, conventional wisdom has long held that gambling is recession-proof. In Las Vegas, it’s been anything but. Gaming revenues received by local casinos were down 12 percent in 2008 as compared with a year earlier. (This figure and all others in this article are reported on an inflation-adjusted basis.) And 2009 will be even worse: So far, revenues are off almost 15 percent from 2008’s already depressed figures. The recession, then, appears set to cost Las Vegas more than a quarter of its business.

This is sobering news not just for those who have purchased property in Las Vegas — economist Tyler Cowen recently stated that the real estate market would not recover there for another twenty years — but also for cash-strapped state legislatures that are turning to casino gambling as a way to raise revenue. Delaware, which already offers horse racing and slot machines, now plans to extend its law to permit table games like blackjack and, more controversially, sports betting. In July, Ohio governor Ted Strickland signed an executive order to permit slot machines at horse tracks, while California began to allow offtrack betting on horse races for the first time. Philadelphia will soon become the largest American city to permit casino gambling within city limits, although play will initially be limited to slot machines. And in Texas — where, ironically, no legal game of Texas hold ’em is available — gaming advocates are hoping that Kay Bailey Hutchison will defeat gambling-averse incumbent Rick Perry in next year’s governor’s race, which would empower the state legislature to consider casino gambling there.

But desperate state governments looking to casinos to bail them out of their budget nightmares are likely to be disappointed. The same may be the case with trying to tap other “sins” for revenue. Nationally, sales of alcohol for off-premises consumption were down significantly last year, an unprecedented 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department. The largest previous drop had been just 3.7 percent, between the third and fourth quarters of 1991.

Alcohol consumption can at least be expected to bounce back a bit — right? — but a lot of the potential customers of the new casinos may be tapped out. The year 2008 was the first time in history that total casino gaming revenues declined throughout the United States (by about 5 percent according to industry estimates). In most jurisdictions, gambling revenues max out quickly. In Atlantic City, for example, which opened for business in 1978, gaming revenues were no higher in 2008 than they were in 1986, and 2009 is on pace to be the slowest year since 1983. Gambling revenues peaked in 2002 in Illinois, in 2000 in Mississippi, and in 2006 in Detroit, which had only begun to permit gambling ten years earlier. The boom years in Vegas, when revenues nearly doubled, between 1989 and 2006, might have led states to misread casino gambling’s upside potential.

What we’ve witnessed, indeed, is something of a race to the bottom. Shortly after President Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, which expressly permitted Indian tribes to open casinos under tribal-state compacts, states like Mississippi, Illinois, and Colorado — seeing no reason to split their profits with the Seminoles or the Cherokee — decided to permit their own state-run facilities. Neighboring states, worried about losing their customers across state lines, then followed suit: Louisiana a year after Mississippi, Indiana and Missouri three years after Illinois, Michigan two years after Ontario, Canada. Meanwhile, the Indian tribes continued to up the ante, their casino revenuesapproximately tripling from 1997 to 2006.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/data/nate-silver-sin-tax-1009?src=rss#ixzz0Rm0Qi3Kb

Written by dnnnewshound

September 21, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Economics

Tagged with , , ,

(POLITICS) READ: Zelaya Returns to Honduras…

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Source: REUTERS/Newser

(Newser Summary) – Manuel Zelaya is back in Honduras, the ousted president told a Honduran TV station today, prompting thousands of his supporters to gather outside the UN building in the capital to celebrate. “I am here for the restoration of democracy, to call for dialogue,” Zelaya declared. The US State Department confirmed Zelaya’s return, though the country’s current de facto ruler denied it.

Zelaya wouldn’t say exactly where in the Tegucigalpa he was, but when a senior aide said he was inside the main UN building, as many as 4,000 supporters gathered outside, shouting “Yes, we did it!” Interim de facto president Roberto Micheletti called the reports “media terrorism,” insisting Zelaya remained “in a suite in a hotel in Nicaragua.”

Kevin Spak

Written by dnnnewshound

September 21, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Foreign Politics, Politics

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